DURBAN – In a corresponding Super Rugby fixture against the Hurricanes last year in New Zealand, the Sharks were robbed of victory by a home score five minutes after the hooter.
The week before, they had scored 75 points at Eden Park in thrashing the Blues, then later in the season they beat the Chiefs and Highlanders in Durban.
The Sharks’ good form against Kiwi teams has continued this year with a drawn match in Christchurch, another victory over the Blues, and a narrow loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton - all of which gives them cause for optimism when they host the Hurricanes at Jonsson Kings Park on Saturday (3pm).
“The way we have played against the New Zealanders is a confidence booster for Saturday’s game, most definitely,” centre Lukhanyo Am said.
“Going into each game you play you have something slightly different motivating you, and for the Hurricanes this week it is the knowledge that we can do it (beat them).”
Am says that the respect the Sharks have for the Kiwi sides ensures that a mental switch is flicked.
“You know that if you don’t pitch mentally you are going to get a hiding,” he explained. “So going into this game, we know what to expect and what might be coming if we are not switched on.
“We know that we have to be mentally prepared for a very physical approach on defence, as we were against the Lions last week but with a further step up,” Am said.
“The Hurricanes, like the Lions, are a side that try to starve you of possession, so we have to be sharp on attack when we do get the ball, as well as on defence.”
Curwin Bosch and Beauden Barrett, two giants of the Vodacom @SuperRugby campaign have had their brilliant moments on the field. Here's a look at their player stats going into this weekend's clash against the @Hurricanesrugby. 🏉#SHAvHUR #OurSharksForever 🦈 pic.twitter.com/Rn5zeU8Xod— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) May 29, 2019
Against the Lions, the Sharks had 40 percent of the possession but when they did get chances to score, they nailed them.
“That is how the game unfolded, and on the day you just have to adapt and play what is in front of you,” Am said. “We scored when we got opportunities and our defence did the rest.”
Am said that the lack of ball coming the way of the back three was not overly frustrating for him.
“You want to play in the right areas of the field and we back our game managers to do that for us. And then if it is not happening for us with possession and we have to defend for the 80 minutes to get the win. That is what we have to do.”
The match-winning try against the Lions was scored by in-form wing Makazole Mapimpi, and Am reckons more could be in store from Mapimpi against the Hurricanes.
“Mapimps is a beast! He has become one of the key players in the team with his work rate, reading of the game and his finishing,” Am enthused. “He is very influential in the team and brings a lot of energy on and off the field. He is in great form.”@MikeGreenaway67